I participated in a retreat this past weekend in Bell County, TX with the St Hildegard’s Community in Austin. It’s a place where I received a powerful message about being Treasured and Called in 2013. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect during this visit with an entirely different group, at a completely different place in my life.
I was not to be disappointed!
The place is called Cedarbrake, and, true to it’s name, the grounds are home to lots of cedar trees. You might be familiar with this central Texas terrain. Cedar trees form more like groves, than forests, since they aren’t very tall. Alongside the wood-chip delineated trails, the earth gives way to slabs of rock. At Cedarbrake, as in other places, those slabs form a ridge that extends over a 30+ ft canyon. One of those ridges was the first stop on my hike, during the 18 hour silent time we entered.
As I heard the water from the small river below, and the birds singing to each other, I felt a pull to lay belly-down on the rock overlooking the canyon. I imagined the indigenous peoples of this land, known to be Comanche land, walking along the river silently, without disrupting the other creatures inhabiting the area. I imagined that the birds wouldn’t be sending out warning cries for them - there would be no need since they walked as if One with the Earth.
The word came to me as I imagined the scene from centuries ago. It had come to me in a dream some weeks ago, and just recently I realized that “Guantanamo” must be the name of one of my Spirit Guides. Or Wise Man archetype, if that feels better to you.
I asked for Guantanamo to make his appearance to me during this silent walking meditation experience. Though I was skeptical about whether I would recognize his presence, I set off from my rocky perch with cautious expectation.
I returned to the path, and continued walking. I passed another retreatant, sat on another ledge, pulled out the rock I had been carrying in my pocket, and watched the vultures hover overhead. After a bit, I headed back.
My feet started hurting me. “Damn these new shoes of mine!” I thought. But then I clearly heard the instruction, “you need to take off your shoes and walk barefoot.”
“Okay,” I thought. I’ve learned to follow these intuitions and instructions, even when they don’t make total sense. So I took off my shoes and socks, and began to walk barefoot on the path.
It’s February and I haven’t been walking barefoot very much…my feet are a little tender and soft. I walked gingerly on the sides and the balls of my feet.
Until I heard, “Walk with your whole foot on the earth. You people have gotten used to concrete, and use only parts of your feet to walk with. The earth requires that you walk with your whole foot upon Her.”
I recognized that I was being instructed in a big way, and I adjusted my step.
Every once in a while I stepped on a rock, or something a little sharp, and my foot would flinch, causing me to hobble - walking on only a small area of the sole of my foot.
“Keep your foot relaxed, even when you experience pain. You people tense up when pain comes. The Earth way is to relax and allow. This helps us move through the pain, the pain move through us. You people learn to avoid the pain, as if that would benefit you more. You flinch instead of leaning into it. When you allow, and lean in, pain is then your ally, your guide and teacher.”
And then, “Allow your pain to pass through your feet into the Earth. And not only your pains, but your tensions, your frustrations, your angers and betrayals. Mother Earth receives all of these with joy! They are Her nourishment and sustenance, just as the dead branches and leaves feed Her. Allow Her to heal you this way, as you heal her by these offerings. “
I’m not sure at what point I recognized Guantanamo, my Spirit Guide, as the One doing the instrusting. He had, indeed, responded to my request to reveal himself more clearly. Just like before, a powerful message came through at Cedarbrake. This time through a generous Indigenous Teacher.
The physical aspect of this teaching resonates strongly. What with high heels, pointy toes, and concrete to walk upon, it is rare that our whole foot has contact with the Earth. Things hurt our bodies less when we don’t tense up.
The emotional and spiritual understanding of the teaching will continue to unfold, I’m sure. For now, the lesson of leaning into and allowing the pains of life without resistance, rings so true. The times I experience emotional pain, are doorways into the depths of my being, and into the vast reserves of Courage and Strength that are there waiting to be expressed in my living.
As a woman who wants to participate in the Healing of the Earth, the idea that me placing my entire sole on the path that I walk, and releasing my tensions and troubles into the ground beneath me, is part of the Circle of Life with the Earth - well, it just brings home that it’s a real relationship She and I have. One that I want to attend to and nurture.
What do these Guantanamo messages speak to you? What tensions and frustrations, pains and betrayals are ready to be released into the Mother? What resistances could relax so that your pain can become your ally and guide? Are you being called to explore your own depths and heal? And in the process discover what power lies in your reserve? I would love to accompany you on that journey!
I would love to assist you to Walk with Your Whole Foot Upon the Earth!
Alisa Carr, Spiritual Director, LCSW, DreamWorker, and Contemplative/Eye of the Heart